Five Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Computer Safe and Healthy

One of the most common questions any computer repair technician receives is, “How do I keep my computer from slowing down and getting viruses?” It's a simple question but one with many different answers that will certainly vary depending on who you ask. But overall, there are five basic things you can do to pro-actively protect your computer from viruses, bloated Spyware, and programs that will generally slow down your computer.

  1. Be aware of what you're downloading:

It's an unfortunate fact of life, but many software distributors now prepackage their products with additional toolbars, bloated programs, or even Spyware. Be sure to pay very careful attention when downloading any program off the internet and read through every page of the installation process to see what is being downloaded. Familiarize yourself with common toolbar names and suspicious search engine schemes.

Check out this page for more information on which toolbars you may or may not want. For updated listings on how to remove malicious search engine software, have a look at the Malwarebytes' blog.

  1. Be aware of where you're downloading from:

Generally speaking, if you're downloading something straight from the developer then concerns about viruses are far less prevalent. However, many third party distribution sites that make a wide variety of software available in one place will package their downloads with other content you may not want. There are also websites that try to imitate the look of reputable software distributors and they will try to trick you into downloading malicious software. If you're trying out a new software, always Google search for the proper website and independent reviews of the content creator.

A huge warning sign for disreputable websites is when the link to your download is completely surrounded in advertisements and has multiple other suspicious “download” links around it. My suggestion: navigate away from this website and possibly even the software. To avoid this, I usually download my software straight from the creator (after thoroughly checking their reputation) or from websites like FileHippo.

  1. Keep your computer up to date:

Believe me, I know how annoying it is to constantly have to update Windows, Java, Flash, etc. Even with automatic update options, it seems as though new updates are always popping up. With that being said, always do them! Nothing leads to viruses and Spyware quicker than an out of date system with old software. I can't tell you how many systems I have seen with outdated Java and Flash components, despite both of them being highly exploited by virus creators. If you're running Windows XP, be particularly rigorous about updating as viruses on this operating system can be extremely malicious and hard to remove.

  1. Be prepared with antivirus software:

Every modern Windows and Macintosh system should have some sort of antivirus software to prevent worst case scenarios. There are many excellent, free antivirus programs out there that are easy to use and require very little setup. Personally, my computers with Windows have Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. MSE is an always-on Antivirus program that Windows provides for absolutely no charge. It's very effective for the everyday computer user and runs in the background with almost no interaction required. On the extremely rare occasion I feel something may have gotten past MSE, I run a scan with Malwarebytes just to keep my peace of mind.

Mac OS X users have one of the absolutely best and free antivirus utilities at their disposal, known as ClamXav. Based on the open source ClamAV software popularized on UNIX distributions, ClamXav is a powerful piece of software that will ensure total system protection.

  1. Last but certainly not least, take the time to maintain your computer:

Although the price of computers has steadily decreased over the years, they are still an expensive investment that need constant attention and maintenance. I highly recommend that every computer owner take at least 30 minutes a week to sit down and take care of their system so they can not only get the most out of their investment, but also so they can fully appreciate these awesome pieces of machinery and the power they possess.

Run a virus scan, run CCleaner (the absolute best utility for cleaning out all the temporary data that clogs up your computer and slows your system down), and take some time to explore the operating system that you work with. You'll be amazed at all the useful that things computers can do for you!

Phil Stone is a local computer repair technician who specializes in virus removal and maintenance. He is the owner and operator of Phil Stone Computer Repair and Virus Removal, which has been in business since 2011. Phil has been a resident of Redding all 22 years of his life. He enjoys relaxing at Whiskeytown lake, playing video games, and hanging out with friends. He can be reached at 530-524-2461, through his email at [email protected], or via his website, PhilStonePCrepair.com

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14 Responses

  1. jacki g says:

    This guy's a great troubleshooter…has saved our bacon several times! He can work with macs, provides peace of mind just knowing he's a text away!

  2. Kay Wilson says:

    Thanks Phil for your article. I am glad that you agrees with my techs. That is good because it gives me more security knowing another good tech agrees with mine.

    The JAVA and Flash pop-ups make me nervous and annoyed when they keep bothering my screen — I do not like those programs anyway.

    I have also learned that it is dangerous to surf around the world. It is a good way to get viruses. Maybe on should to take your computer to the County Health Department before you surf to India, Russia and other countries!

    • Phil Stone says:

      Hello Kay, thank you very much for taking the time to read my article! Java and Flash are definitely annoying but don't feel nervous doing the updates, ultimately they are there to keep you more safe when browsing the internet.

      As far as foreign website go, I recommend using the internet browser Firefox to search for the site on Google before visiting. They will raise many very apparent warnings before letting you enter.

      If you have any more concerns, you can always feel free to email or call me at my contact information listed above!

  3. I have learned so much about computer maintenance from this young man and I rarely have problems, which is so important when you run a business.

    Thanks Phil! Love, Mom (:>)

  4. Hi Phil, let me start by telling you how thankful I am that I get to visit your site. I really got a bunch of ideas about computer maintenance and getting rid of unwanted computer threats. I never have practiced the tips you pointed out in this article before but I guess I should give them a try this time. I used to depend solely on the anti virus software that's installed in my computer, and that's it. Thanks a lot for taking time to share this information with us. You really are great!

    • Phil Stone says:

      Thank you very much for the nice words and for taking the time to read my article! I certainly wish that antivirus were enough but until then, the tips above will definitely help keep your computer in top notch condition! Please feel free to contact me at anytime at my contact information listed above if you have any questions or concerns!

  5. Jennie D. says:

    These are 5 steps to live by for a headache-free computer experience! And as another commenter said, Phil never makes you feel bad for asking simple computer questions–he patiently and clearly explains it all to technology-challenged people like me. Thanks for the free advice Phil!

  6. Timothy says:

    Thanks Phil. Always like to keep up with computer maintenance.

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